Tony Colman MP for Putney writes

In this week's diary for our MP covers the Council Tax, Stop Smoking Day & International Women's Day, Victim Support London plus the UNICEF Educational Support Service........

Council Tax Wandsworth

I am sure many will be pleased that there will be no increase in the Wandsworth part of the Council Tax (Ken Livingstone's precept is going up slightly). However, it comes with a £1 million cut in the Schools Budget (second year running) and cuts on a whole range of Putney services - luncheon clubs, cancer resource centre, bereavement services - of a further £300,000 and the loss of Putney CAB through another cut of £300,000. Added to this, Wandsworth Council still has large reserves which it refuses to use for the above. The electors of Putney have a choice in 2006 whether they wish to have the reserves used to keep/restore services or a small increase in Council Tax. If Eddie Lister's mailbag is as big as mine I hope he will use the reserves and reverse all these cuts. Tom Cox (MP for Tooting), Martin Linton (MP for Battersea) and myself are holding an adjournment debate in the House on March 16 on this subject.

There have been a lot of important issue-raising days in the last week and so I would like to draw attention to them in my column this week:

Cease smoking day

Wednesday 10 March was stop smoking day. We all know the health risks of smoking, but equally I know that it can be hard to quit. My father died young from smoking and my mother had severe emphysema from it. I hope this year's stop smoking initiatives will give those of you who wish to stop smoking the tools to do so.

Victim Support London

On Monday 8 March I attended a House of Commons reception held by Victim Support London. This year's theme was "Protecting our Children". This was a well attended and worthwhile event. Victim Support in London does a very good job, with 17 staff in 12 boroughs working directly with children and young victims of crime in London. The organisation is currently helping child and young victims of crime by providing practical and emotional help and support, assistance at court and guidance and support for parents.

May I pay tribute to the work of the late Cllr Duncan Hawkins who promoted Victim Support Wandsworth for so many years.

International Women's Day

This was also 8 March and there were a number of high profile events in London to celebrate including capitalwomen2004 hosted by Ken Livingstone.

My wife, Juliet and I are concerned about gender issues. Recently I made a flying visit to Johannesburg to attend a UNDP Seminar on Gender Equality. Juliet organised a UNIFEM event at the Split Lit Festival on Wednesday. UNIFEM is the United Nations women's fund - which provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies that promote women's human rights, political participation and economic security.

UNICEF Education Support Service

There has been an information stand in the Palace of Westminster this week advertising the UNICEF Education Support Service. I think this is a very useful initiative. The Education Support Staff offer: active classroom sessions and INSET sessions with teachers on: children's rights in Citizenship and PSHE/PSE, Global citizenship, the work of UNICEF, curriculum topics such as water and food and teaching locality studies, for example, on India.

I have collected some leaflets which I am sending to Primary Schools in Putney, but anyone else who is interested should look at the UNICEF website:

Tony Colman MP

For more information about what I've been up to and how to contact me go to my web site Or just e-mail me with any concerns/problems:

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Tony Colman MP

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March 13th, 2004

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12th March 2002